Morning Reggie put up the most impressive performance of the afternoon at Warwick on Wednesday when, despite the holding ground, he took the Executive Hire Show Handicap Chase by 39 lengths to land his first win over fences, writes David Hucker.
With Last Shot making the early running, Leighton Aspell was content to bide his time aboard Morning Reggie but, having led approaching six fences out, the Oliver Sherwood-trained grey went further and further away from his three rivals, coming home clear of Frontier Spirit.
There were some fancy prices to be had in the betting for the opening MHM Maiden Hurdle, with five of the seven runners trading at 20-1 and above. The market had been skewed by the presence of King’s Odyssey, who had faced some smart opposition in three hurdle races to date and looked on paper a class above the rest.
Beaten by Champagne Express when odds-on favourite at Chepstow last time out, King’s Odyssey was backed as if defeat was out of the question here and he survived a mistake at the last flight to beat 66-1 shot Cleeve Hill Lad and early leader Dream N.
In the absence of likely favourite Slowfoot, just three lined up for the JCB Novices’ Hurdle, with the juveniles Jeanpascal and Russian Bolero dominating the betting market, going off joint favourite at even money.
Russian Bolero set the pace to outsider Callmenewtown and, despite a mistake at the third-last, still led into the home straight.
Stalking them on the inside and seemingly going well was Auteuil winner Jeanpascal, who looked to be coming with a well-timed winning run as they faced up to the final two hurdles.
But Jeanpascal did not find as much as expected, not helped by ballooning the last, and Aidan Coleman had to get serious to see off the challenge of the running-on Callmenewtown by a neck.
The GES Handicap Chase proved a real test of stamina in the holding ground and it was the mare Emma Soda, patiently ridden by Peter Carberry, who came out on top, collaring long-time leader Mr McGregor at the penultimate fence.
Winner of the race in 2013 off a handicap mark of 100, Emma Soda has been lightly raced since, but had caught the eye when fifth at Exeter on her last run and, running from a 2lb lower mark this time, showed she still retains plenty of ability.
Back in fourth place was Bally Braes, on whom Sam Twiston-Davies had needed all his acrobatic skills to stay on board, jumping the final fence with his feet out of the irons, but there were no such problems in the following long-distance hurdle when top-weight Belmount ground out a victory to bring up his 125th winner of the season.
With the retirement of AP McCoy, the jockeys championship will be wide open next season and Tom Scudamore is one of a clutch of riders in contention.
He has already left his previous best seasonal score well behind and Streets of Promise, trained by his brother Michael, lived up to her name when making it win number 134 in the mares’ handicap hurdle.